If you’re looking to cut last-minute cancellations and no-shows in your dental practice, start with your intake process. That’s the message from one dental practice that reduced its cancellation rate from 20% to less than 1%. It’s not about just getting new dental patients; it’s about getting new patients who show up.
Last-minute cancellations can wreak havoc on scheduling and productivity for even the best-run dental practices, so reducing patient cancellations is critical to maximizing practice resources and revenue. While advance cancellations give you the opportunity to book another patient, no-shows block the schedule for other patients looking to book in. According to an article by Jen McGuier in Dental Economics, just one lost appointment a day for a year can cost a dental practice $20,000 to $70,000 in lost productivity.
So how do you stop no-shows? It starts at the beginning. While most practices focus their marketing on getting new patients, very few understand how to effectively identify patients who show up, pay, stay, and refer.
Front Range Dental Center is ahead of most practices when it comes to getting these patients. They focus on cultivating a base of patients who won’t miss appointments. And they credit their investment in RevenueWell Forms for helping them accomplish that goal.
How to attract dental patients who show up
Attracting new patients was never the problem for Front Range Dental Center. Situated in Fort Collins, Colo., the practice has a predominately affluent patient base that cares about oral health and aesthetics. Front Range is a high-volume practice with a heavy concentration on hygiene and recare. It’s a seemingly ideal situation.
But the practice’s no-show rate hovered around 18-20%.
Radtke says he believed a streamlined, paperless intake process would improve the experience for patients and the practice. But he didn’t realize what an impact the change could have on reducing no-shows.
“When we were using paper forms, we had a little consult room for patients to fill in the forms,” he explains. “We’d bring someone in, do a quick check-in using Eaglesoft. And they’d go into a room where they’d fill everything out on the computer. It was pretty seamless, but it would take time.”
Radtke and his team knew that the quality of patients mattered just as much as quantity, and they wanted a solution that could:
- Speed up check-ins
- Help them weed out patients that cause issues
- Work with their existing dental practice management software
Why paperless patient intake works
Implementing digital forms was the answer. Research shows that 98% of patients who take the time to fill out forms online will make it to their appointments.
By completing their forms before an appointment, patients have already committed themself. They’ve also successfully tackled the first part of their visit and now can show up on time (rather than 15 minutes early) knowing you’ll be fully prepared for them.
As the practice moved to digital forms, Radtke found some challenges in a provider outside RevenueWell.
“I was with another solution for forms and it wasn’t working properly. They didn’t have the API to directly integrate to Eaglesoft. So, we still had to go do it manually,” he said.
Looking for a solution that integrated better with Eaglesoft, Radtke and the Front Range Dental team tried RevenueWell Forms.
The patient no-show rate decreased to under 1%
The Front Range team started using Forms by including links to the forms in all their welcome emails. As a result, the practice shaved roughly 15 minutes off every visit.
“One of the things our front desk does when they make a new patient appointment is say, ‘We have an email that’s going to be coming out to you’,” says Radtke. “The email is going to include a link to fill out the forms online, so when you come into the office, we want to make sure your time is equally as valuable to ours. You don’t have to come in 15 minutes early. You come in one minute early—just have your forms done.”
Out of the 700 patients who completed the online forms prior to the appointment, only three patients didn’t show up.
After seeing such resounding success, the Front Range team made a significant change to their overall process: They stopped accepting patients who wouldn’t fill out their forms online.
“The ones who still don’t fill out the forms, they’re more likely to not show. We actually had a team meeting at the front desk about it. If our patients are not filling out forms online, we’re not going to let them come to our practice,” says Radtke.
“Not every person is a fit for our practice. If we have online forms, they may say, ‘Oh, I can’t do that.’ That’s okay! We refer them to other practices in the area. It’s not me trying to get every patient into my practice. It’s me or my front office staff trying to get the right patients into our practice.”
Want to see how RevenueWell Forms can help you cut no-shows? Learn more about RevenueWell Forms or explore RevenueWell’s full platform of patient marketing, scheduling, and communication solutions.
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